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Initiatives like PIER aim to make SA safe

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In the most recent census, it was established that 56, 8% of South Africans live in poverty. These impoverished communities are particularly vulnerable to fire. So what is being done to help make them more resilient?

PIER Shack fires

In Gauteng, South Africa’s most densely populated province, several measures have already been taken, both by government and by private enterprises, to help prevent fires before they start and to minimise their dangerous effects when they happen.

One of these measures is Gauteng’s Public Information, Education and Relations (PIER) programme, spearheaded by the South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI), the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Gauteng’s three biggest metros - Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

Synock Matobako, divisional chief of Joburg’s PIER programme said, “Safety is the responsibility of everybody; not just the emergency services.” He went on to reiterate that safety is the responsibility of all South Africans, especially those living in high-risk areas such as informal settlements. And as such, PIER does what it can to educate those people and arm them with the tools not only to prevent fires from happening but, in the event of a fire, to prevent them from spreading, minimise loss of life and damage to property and possessions.

“It is the responsibility of the community to make sure the environment they are staying in is safe,” Matobako continued. “A community must be safety-aware. Remove things that you know are going to cause emergencies. We’re going into winter now; we know that people are going to be using a lot of heaters and there is going to be a lot of load-shedding. These things lead to dangerous ways of warming up and heating.”

At a Gauteng PIER workshop earlier this year, Eskom’s Marius Atterbury said, “PIER is the process of changing attitudes and behaviour related to safety, as most fires and injuries can be prevented by changed behaviour.”

“Knowing very well that communities are the first respondents in emergencies, we have devised programmes and initiatives where we are teaching communities, especially those in high-risk areas, how to deal with emergencies,” Matobako continued.

On 25 May, in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township, four children died when several shacks caught fire. Incidents like this, which are unfortunately still quite common in South Africa, are why initiatives like PIER are so important.


SAESI ventilation workshop a smash

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The Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) hosted its annual ventilation workshop on 21 May in KwaZulu-Natal.

The workshop’s theme was ‘Limiting the spread of fire and smoke through effective smoke control – the implications of non-compliance on lives and assets’, as it saw industry players from all over the country come together to discuss this important issue.

Marius Atterbury, head of fire risk management at Eskom, was the session chair and he oversaw talks by industry professionals. SAESI’s Melvin Ramall opened the workshop by saluting the City of Joburg firefighters who died last week while on duty. Russel Crambe from SE Control set the scene and Anand Manilal, a risk engineer from Emerald Africa, talked about insurance issues and fire risk assessment.

TJ Bezuidenhout, Curvent International’s national sales and marketing manager, gave an overview of fire standards and codes and the interpretation thereof. Ivan Pillay, manager of fire safety for eThekwini, provided a fire safety official’s perspective, while Trevor Williams (Consulting Engineer (TWCE)) talked computational fluid dynamics.

Other speakers included Kobus Strydom from Firelab and Sikhumbuzo Ngcobo, a senior firefighter from eThekwini, who discussed ventilation on the mines and the firefighter’s experience with smoke respectively.


A new era dawns

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By: Dino Padayachee, incoming president of the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI)

As we come to the end of the term of office of our current president, Mr Ofentse Masibi, it is important for us to stop and check what we as SAESI have achieved over the last few months.

IncomingPresident DinoPaddayacheeFirst, we agreed to introduce the executive committee (EXCO) and managed to dissolve the management committee (MANCOM) that was too inhibited to execute speedy decisions and take our institution forward. Then we registered our institution as a non-profit company (NPC) and received all our legal documents to proceed as a legal entity. This bold step will result in many doors opening for SAESI, which will bear fruitful results.

One of the most important steps in the conclusion of the process above is for our members to approve the draft Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) at our annual general meeting (AGM), to be held on 25-26 June 2015 in Kimberly. Other achievements include our accreditation committee, under the leadership of Mr Thenis Pretorius, managing to ensure that SAESI received accreditations for 21 courses (previously 9) to be presented by SAESI-accredited training centres by the International Fire Services Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).

Our technical committee, under the leadership of Mr Marius Atterbury, presented breathing workshops that were well attended by fire and emergency services practitioners from public and business enterprises throughout southern Africa. Our legal committee, under the leadership of Mr Petrus Brits, is working nonstop to get our company rules and regulations in place, whilst the administration committee, under the leadership of Mr Riaan van Vuuren, is working furiously to ensure that our MOI is ready for approval at the AGM. They are also working hard to ensure that our 2015 Conference and Training Exhibition is a great success. All work and no play is no fun and therefore our services/liaison and sport committee (under the leadership of Mr Peter Rudolf and Mr Brijlal) are ensuring that our emergency services personnel unite in sporting and other associated activities.

Having said the above, this indicates that SAESI is not a one-man show but a member-driven organisation and that every single member plays a vital role in ensuring the sustainability of our institute. It is also important for us to thank each of our executive, branch and committee members for their dedication and hard work. Without these dedicated women and men, very little will be achieved.

Everyone that I come into contact with is looking forward to the 2015 Conference and Training Exhibition. SAESI, in conjunction with Interact Media Defined (IMD), are pulling all stops to ensure a great and successful event. Our sincere thanks to IMD for all the hard work.


Overcoming the challenges of examinations

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By: Juggy Padayachee, chairperson of the SAESI education committee

JuggieJuggy Padayachee, chairperson of the SAESI education committee, takes a look at effective study methods and how to make the most of the education you are given.

The year has passed by and we are at the next siting for the South Africa Emergency Services Institute (SAESI)’s examination. The education committee has gone to great lengths to create a data bank of questions and study guides on all levels, which in my opinion has made learning much simpler. And yet, we have students contacting us to narrow down the scope for learning.

Unfortunately, this cannot be done as the questions are randomly selected by a computer and nobody on the committee knows exactly what’s coming out in the examinations. The committee members receive these examination questions once the examinations are concluded and, thereafter, they prepare the memorandum for marking sessions.

All students were advised that they could contact the persons responsible for the subjects via email and those persons will assist. The purpose for this is to try and bring the understanding to a common ground.

For example, a pump can pump out 3000ℓ per minute at 700kpa. The students battle to understand this principal and they ask how this is possible when the tank capacity is only 2000 ℓ. This is then explained and you will be surprised how appreciative the student is when this is done.

When we receive these emails on ‘How can I study 60 questions?’, we say in the back of our minds that this is quite simple: just get a study group together and split the questions. I know when I wrote the examinations, we used to beg and borrow past examination question papers and form study groups. You will be amazed at how people expand their knowledge and skills during these study groups. I know, however, that some people like to study on their own.

To the students who are writing, remember that failure is a stepping stone to success and that knowledge is power, so I urge you to continue studying as the firefighting field is vast. Do not simply get your higher diploma and then rest; go out and venture into something challenging.


Who’s who of SAESI 2015 conference speakers

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F.I.R.E Africa brings you all the information you need about the SAESI 2015 conference speakers and topics

We take a look at the keynote speakers, conference chair, session chairs and topic speakers for the South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI)’s annual conference, to be held in November at NASREC, Johannesburg.

Conference chair – Elias Sithole
Ellias SitholeBongani Elias Sithole entered government in 1990. He was trained and worked in various capacities in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)’s fire services and operations. In 2002, he worked with the presidency on special projects and the National Youth Commission, focusing on issues of youth development.

Sithole joined the private sector in 2005, consulting on issues of disaster management. Through disaster management work, he travelled extensively abroad to countries like Jordan, Netherlands, Ghana, and also worked in countries affected by disasters. Sithole re-joined government in December 2011, and is currently the head of Gauteng’s provincial disaster management centre.


Keynote speaker – Dr Imtiaz Sooliman

Imtiaz SoolimanDr Imtiaz Sooliman was born in Potchefstroom and matriculated at Sastri College in Durban. He qualified as a medical doctor at the University of Natal Medical School in 1984. In1994, he left private medical practise to fully concentrate on the Gift of the Givers (GOTG) foundation, which he founded in 1992. Sooliman developed GOTG into one of the world's most respectable humanitarian organisations. Sooliman’s major achievements include designing and developing the world's first and only containerised mobile hospital of its kind in 1993, deployed in Bosnia and compared by CNN to any of the best hospitals in Europe, and leading GOTG to become the first organisation in the history of South Africa to be given R60 million by government to design and roll out 204 000 food parcels.

His keynote address will focus on the multiple facets of disaster response. Logistics, including diplomacy, access and deployment are key, without which, the most skilled team in the world will be rendered useless. GOTG will take you on a journey with Africa's largest disaster response agency from infancy to the present time detailing the challenges, adaptation, innovation and management in changing circumstances in some of the world's most complicated and horrendous disasters. Primary health care, trauma medicine, secondary traumatisation, trauma counselling, rehabilitation, setting up hospitals, search and rescue teams, sniffer dogs, housing developments, tents, food, water provision are but some of the diverse aspects that will be detailed. Skills transfer, patient education, reconstruction of essential facilities and self-sufficiency are all aspects of what its missions entail. Hands on management and twenty three years of experience will be shared with the participants.



Keynote speaker – Stuart Ellis
Stuart EllisStuart Ellis was an army officer for over 22 years, serving with the Special Air Service (SAS) regiment. In 1996, he was appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the South Australian Country Fire Service. In 2002, he established a consultancy company and has been involved in over 20 operational reviews, including the Canberra Bushfires, the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and the operational response to the Christchurch earthquake. In 2012, he was appointed CEO of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), the national council for fire and emergency services in Australasia. Ellis is passionate about improving the incident management skills of emergency services and company operations and has a focus on progressing an industry wide, integrated approach to emergency management.

His keynote address will synthesise Australian learnings across resilience, incident management and relief/recovery. It will also focus on how effective incident management is a critical element of minimising the impact of all incidents. This is a shared responsibility between emergency services and private companies/infrastructure maintainers.


Session chair (education) – Marius Atterbury
Marius AtterburyMarius Atterbury has worked in the fire industry for many years. From 1986 until 2011, he served as Ekurhuleni’s district manager of fire safety, before moving on to serve as Eskom’s senior fire and emergency risk management advisor in 2011. He is a fellow member of SAESI, serves on the SAESI technical committee, and has been an associate member of the Institution of Fire Engineers since 2013.

His experiences include being a member of a relief team that attended to an earthquake in India, and he has assisted with planning and logistics during several other international aid sorties. He established the Public Information, Education and Relations (PIER) unit for Ekurhuleni Metro emergency services. Atterbury was chairperson of the 2010 Soccer World Cup Emergency Services Planning Committee and served as a member of the Ekurhuleni Metro 2010 Soccer World Cup Steering Committee. He has provided leadership in the standardisation of matter related to fire and its associated industries.



Topic speaker (education) – Paul Motsepe
Paul MotsepeModumo Paul Motsepe works for the West Rand District Municipality, where he currently serves as that municipality’s PIER officer. Major career highlights for Motsepe include serving as the chairperson of Gauteng’s provincial PIER working group, as the chairperson of West Rand Public Safety Awareness Committee, and as the chairperson of West Rand CDWs Committee.

His topic address will focus on PIER, its principles and values. PIER recognises the importance of people’s ability to act together to influence the social and environmental issues that affect them. It also aims to encourage sharing, and creating structures which give genuine participation and involvement. It also must take a lead in countering the destruction of the natural environment on which we all depend.



Session chair (risk management) – Tshepo Makola
Tshepo MakolaBecoming a part of the emergency management services (EMS) was never part of Tshepo Makola’s career plan. After matric, he planned to study dental technology at the University of Pretoria. However, when an opportunity presented itself, he went through the assessment with his friend to become a firefighter. The EMS chief has expressed great respect and honour for his career in the EMS.

As Johannesburg’s EMS chief, Makola has worked on community initiatives to empower and educate communities about safety resilience and safer communities in the city of Johannesburg. Those initiatives became what we know as the School Emergency Response Teams (SERT) and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) programmes, which is quite successful in the greater Johannesburg area.



Topic speaker (risk management) – Schalk Willem Lubbe
Schalk LubbeSchalk Willem Lubbe is a fire engineering specialist with diverse experience spanning over 27 years. This includes 22 years in fire engineering associated with numerous types of industries including mining, heavy engineering, smelting, chemical, petrochemical, Pebble-bed nuclear reactors and other industrial processes. Schalk has substantial experience in the application of fire standards associated with fire system design. Lubbe’s qualifications include an associate diploma from the South African Fire services Institute (SAFSI), a higher diploma in fire technology from Pretoria Technikon, an executive development diploma from the University of Stellenbosch, and a business continuity management diploma (US).

Lubbe’s talk will focus on the empowerment of vulnerable communities by identifying the hazards that affect them in their communities and understanding how to assist them in identifying and minimising or eliminating those risks.



Topic speaker (security and resilience) – Moshema Mosia
Moshema MosiaMoshema Mosia began his career as a firefighter in 1987 in the Free State province. He progressed to station manager there and, by the time he left, he was the assistant chief fire officer. He then moved onto the Greater Germiston City Council as assistant chief fire officer. He held that position until the establishment of the current Ekurhuleni Metropolitan municipality.

Mosia is currently employed by the City of Ekurhuleni as head of Disaster and Emergency Management Services. Previously, he was director of Emergency Services and executive director of Community Safety, and was employed as deputy city manager of Operations for two years.

Mosia holds a B.Admin degree, an associate diploma in fire technology and an advanced university diploma in disaster management. He joined the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) in 1988, where he has held the post of president twice, the only person to have that honour since SAESI’s inception. He represents South Africa on the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)’s TC 292- Security and Resilience committee, where he is the chairperson of developing countries. He had gathered a tremendous amount of experience after serving in various structures within SAESI, SAQA, Fire Brigade Board, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

Mosia’s talk will focus on international standardisation in security and resilience. The world has evolved into a global community of interdependent societies. Changes in technical and economic relationships have resulted in cross-jurisdictional and trans-boundary interdependencies for vital societal functions and assets. The security and well-being of people increasingly depends on the continuity of vital functions of individual organisations, local communities, nations and the global community regardless of political boundaries. The number and magnitude impact of disasters in the last few years has increased awareness of the need for international standardisation in the fields of disaster risks reduction, emergency management and business continuity management. Emergencies and disasters do not know boundaries. The international community finds itself having to respond to these emergencies and disasters to assist other countries. Thus, interoperability during emergencies and disasters becomes a challenge. ISO established a technical committee called: ISO/TC 292- ‘Security and Resilience’ to create standards in the fields mentioned above. At the recent World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the world agreed and committed to fast- tracking standardisation. Developing countries are most vulnerable to major incidents and disasters. Participation of men and women from across the globe is required in undertaking this work.


*Please note that abstracts are subject to change.
**Please note that some speakers’ information was unavailable at the time of going to print.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 07:28

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Telephone Number: 011 660 5672
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